Chinchillas sure do look cuddly!
They’re so cute that all you want to do is cuddle them!
But do they feel the same way?
Are chinchillas cuddly pets, or do they prefer to be left alone?
It turns out the answer is not as simple as just “yes” or “no”.
Keep reading to learn whether chinchillas are cuddly and how you can get yours to show more affection, so you get much more cuddle time.
- 1 Are Chinchillas Cuddly?
- 2 Chinchilla Cuddling
- 2.1 Start Small To Increase Cuddling
- 2.2 Do Chinchillas Like To Cuddle?
- 2.3 Can You Cuddle A Chinchilla In The First Days Home?
- 2.4 Chinchillas Become More Cuddly As Time Passes
- 2.5 My Story About How Cuddly My Chinchilla Is
- 2.6 Don’t Force Cuddling With Your Chinchilla
- 2.7 Signs You Should Not Try To Cuddle Your Chinchilla
- 2.8 Trust Will Get You Closer To Cuddle Time
- 2.9 Don’t Be Alarmed If Your Chinchilla Never Cuddles
- 3 Cuddly Chinchillas: Final Thoughts
Are Chinchillas Cuddly?
Many chinchillas do not enjoy cuddling. While some well-socialized chinchillas may enjoy cuddling after they are comfortable with you, it is certainly possible to end up with one that never enjoys it.
Don’t be overly disappointed by this answer.
I personally have not had an issue with my chinchilla when it comes to cuddling and want to use the rest of this brief post to break that down for you.
A cuddly chinchilla is 100% possible and I believe I have a detailed plan to achieve that. Follow it and you should be able to enjoy cuddling with your chinchilla just as I have during these first 5 years.
Here’s the deal with a chinchilla cuddling. As stated when we kicked off this post, some chinchillas are going to be more cuddly than others.
It all depends on the socialization of your specific chinchilla, its past upbringing, and how you build a bond and trust with it after arriving home after the adoption.
Chinchillas take several weeks to adjust and to get used to their new environment.
They may show affection and love, but they don’t like being overly handled or held in many circumstances.
This is especially true during the first weeks of getting home, when they are still feeling you out and trying to get a grasp on their new environment, and how you will handle them.
Don’t let this news turn you away though.
After just a week or so, my chinchilla started warming up and interacting with me much more than she did initially upon arriving home.
With some proper conditioning, respect of your pet’s space, and some patience, your chinchilla can show more love and affection towards you than you may think.
This is especially important during the initial weeks when you return home or bring your chinchilla home for the first time.
Chinchillas do get scared relatively easily, so it is important never to force the cuddling or handling (more on this later).
Your house makes noises and produces smells, and your chinchilla needs to take everything in before becoming comfortable.
Your furnace may kick on and make some small clatter that may cause your chinchilla to be more reserved and scared in the initial weeks in its new home.
You may be using a basement near a washer and dryer or even have young kids running around.
Depending on where you got your chinchillas, be it a rescue or even a pet store like PetSmart or Petco, these noises are likely different than what they are used to.
In addition, everything will look different and smell different to your chinchilla. This puts its senses into overdrive. I know it did when my chinchilla first arrived home.
I have a small wooden hiding/nest box in my chinchilla cage, and she barely came out of it at all during the first week.
I even used a DSLR camera to record her at night, so I could make sure she was eating and drinking water.
Start Small To Increase Cuddling
One of the most significant tips I can give you is to use small spaces to your advantage.
What I mean by this is to use a pop-up animal tent to interact with your chinchilla in the early days and first weeks.
They are completely safe for your chinchilla.
It also eliminates the potential of making rookie mistakes when you are chinchilla proofing a room for your chinchilla to play.
They also force your chinchilla to bond and trust you much faster, due to having limited space to run around.
It’s what I attribute to my bond growing and my chinchilla being overly cuddly quickly into the relationship with me.
They are plenty large enough for you and others to sit inside and it will take only a few days for your chinchilla to warm up to you. My chinchilla was sitting on my shoulders within a few days using this approach.
I used this exact pop-up tent to interact with my chinchilla.
You can also read my post about other fantastic chinchilla playpens here.
Trust me, if cuddling is something you desire out of becoming a chinchilla parent, this is going to take you to that point much faster.
Not to mention, they are enclosed, your chinchilla can’t run away, and there are no further dangers of wire chewing or other issues.
Do Chinchillas Like To Cuddle?
Again, you may adopt a chinchilla from a breeder near you and luck out and get a chinchilla that loves to cuddle.
You may also adopt a chinchilla that does not warm up to cuddling for a long time, or never warms up to cuddling at all.
It is the luck of the draw. But you have control in how you approach the situation with your chinchilla. The more time you work with it and socialize your chinchilla, the better.
Most frequently, if they are scared or agitated, it is likely they may bark at you to inform you that they are not in the mood to cuddle. If this happens, respect that and try again another day.
You also need to learn how to get your chinchilla to enjoy being held before moving into the cuddling phase.
All of this effort, bonding, and respect for your pet is ultimately going to give you a much better chance at having one that is willing to cuddle, and even enjoys it.
Trust me, if you start working on these things, your chinchilla will eventually like to cuddle with you. At least, that is how it has been for me.
Can You Cuddle A Chinchilla In The First Days Home?
Although you may luck out and find a chinchilla that loves to cuddle and be held right away, it’s not extremely common.
It’s not recommended to try and cuddle during the first few weeks.
This is when your chinchilla will be the most fearful and defensive and certainly not in the mood for cuddling.
Attempting to pick up your chinchilla or placing your fingers in its face may not even be a good idea during the first week. This is likely when you may even experience your chinchilla biting you.
Don’t get me wrong.
Chinchillas are extremely friendly, soft, loving pets. But any pet, when scared out of its mind, can act a bit differently than it will when it is warmed up.
Like I said, my chinchilla didn’t do much except sit in her hiding box when I first got her home. I gave her some treats over the next week or so and made it her come to my hand to get them just to begin building the bond.
She was shy and scared during this time, but at the end of the day, she slowly started coming around and getting used to the environment.
At the end of the day, just ensure you continue to spend time with your chinchilla so that it doesn’t get lonely.
Accommodate, adjust, and go with the flow.
Chinchillas Become More Cuddly As Time Passes
After your chinchilla is comfortable with its new environment, things begin to change, and you can start to see the love.
My chinchilla took about 7-10 days for this transition once we arrived home.
After she was comfortable, I began attempting to condition her some and let her know that I’m safe and one of the good guys. I would get her out for about 30-45 minutes every day and interact with her.
My goal during this phase was to really show her that I’m safe, and build the association that I represent pleasure and safety.
I never invaded her space non-invited. You shouldn’t do this either if you ever expect your chinchilla to cuddle with you. If your chinchilla gets squirrely when you pick it up, set it down.
If it scatters when being touched or pet in the first week or so, wait for it to come to you.
I’d offer small treats, allow her to eat out of my hand, and would even bring the dust bath into the room where we have out of the cage playtime each day.
My Story About How Cuddly My Chinchilla Is
Now things have shifted dramatically. Me just walking into the room near her, gets her excited. She comes to the front of her cage ready to play.
I can pet her in the cage and outside of the cage. She loves being scratched behind her ears and under her chin (no pun intended).
Now, during playtime, she is cuddly. She was not cuddly in the beginning but she has become very cuddly since.
It’s just how it goes with chinchillas as they slowly get comfortable.
Well, sort of…
If I lay down on the floor, even though the room is decent sized, she will burrow into my chest, lay on my shoulder, or just hang out for several minutes.
We haven’t taken a nap together by any means and cuddled up for a movie day, but she’s undoubtedly beginning to warm up and show how great chinchillas can be as pets.
Don’t overdo it and allow them time. Trying to push the issue too much will just have them fleeing in the opposite direction from you. No need to have your chinchilla wanting to run away from you.
Don’t Force Cuddling With Your Chinchilla
Forcing it too much in the beginning, or in general, can cause a lot of anxiety and stress in your chinchilla. If you have never owned before, you may run into what’s known as a fur slip.
I have a post that discusses all the reasons why chinchillas lose their fur that you. You can see it here.
A fur slip is nothing more than a defense mechanism chinchillas use in the wild to protect themselves from enemies.
I don’t think you want to experience the feeling that you pushed it too much and your chinchilla is that frightful of you.
If, however, it’s a large patch of fur that takes the chinchilla down to the skin, you need to back off. Give it space and stop attempting to force any form of cuddling.
Kids Should Avoid Over Cuddling A Chinchilla
During the warming-up period, don’t beat yourself up over cuddling with your chinchilla and scaring it into a fur slip. It happens, and the fur will grow back.
It’s going to happen to you several more times over the next 15 years.
My 2-year-old son was the first person to make my chinchilla have a fur slip for trying to force cuddling and handling it a bit aggressively or too often.
Now they interact with each other and are perfectly fine.
It’s about finesse, taking things slow, and building that bond with your chinchilla if you ultimately want to reach the level of having cuddle time in the future.
The Key Is To Take It Slow
I’ve noticed over the past couple of months that the smallest things make the most significant difference. I believe this is what has led my chinchilla to be more open to cuddles and interaction with me and my family.
She sits near me in my home office all day, and I’ll randomly talk to her. I clean her cage daily and give her a treat while doing so.
I pet her in her cage but only if she comes to me, and I just treat her with the same respect that I would treat any other animal.
If she’s not in the mood, I leave her alone. Plain and simple.
If she is in the mood to cuddle, I show her attention (when I have the time of course).
It’s straightforward, and in all honesty, it doesn’t take much to pick up on the signs your chinchilla is sending you.
To get your chinchilla to enjoy being cuddled, just use all of the tips we have discussed thus far and I promise, it will begin to warm up to you.
Signs You Should Not Try To Cuddle Your Chinchilla
Chinchillas will rarely show any aggression so don’t let this section worry you. However, your chinchilla may show you signs that it is 100% a bad idea to attempt to cuddle.
If your chinchilla is shaking in fear or is continually trying to hide or get away from you, it’s time to start rethinking your strategy. If a female chinchilla sprays urine at you, it’s time to back off and attempt to cuddle another day.
The same could be said if your chinchilla attempts to nibble or bite you in a more aggressive fashion than usual.
Trust Will Get You Closer To Cuddle Time
I call this the circle of trust and fear. Picture your chinchilla as having a circle of chalk on the floor around it. almost like a crime scene would have.
That’s its fear and trust circle.
It may fear you in the beginning, but respecting this circle begins to condition him or her towards getting used to you. Getting used to your smells, voice, physical appearance and all that entails.
Slowly, if you just respect its space, you will teach it that nothing terrible ever happens when you’re around. The circle gets smaller.
Now you can get it out to play, but the circle still exists. Don’t push it. Let it out, and if it wants to jump and poop on your head, that’s fine. It’s up to your pet.
However, just always remember to build this trust first and let the cuddling take place after. It’s as easy as that, my friends.
Once The Trust Is Built, Maintain It
Eventually, the circle does disappear. For me, this took about 3 weeks total as I stated before.
Now, I can grab her, place my fingers in her face, let her jump all over me and she gets excited anytime I’m around. Just give it time and show some respect and the cuddles will follow.
Don’t Be Alarmed If Your Chinchilla Never Cuddles
Also, you need to keep in mind that not all chinchillas are the same. They don’t all enjoy interaction the same or want to cuddle. This may take years to overcome, or it may never happen .
The key is to remain patient and realize it’s just the luck of the draw with your chinchilla.
With some dust bath time, treats, and proper care and handling, I have full faith your chinchilla will eventually be ready to show some love towards you. And yes, eventually even cuddle.
That’s when it becomes the most fun as a chinchilla owner. The head sitting, shoulder running, leg jumping, ear nibbling time is what we all are looking for. Well, at least I was.
Cuddly Chinchillas: Final Thoughts
At the end of the day, if you follow these directions, I’m confident you can form that unbreakable bond with your pet and have a chinchilla willing to cuddle with you.
It is possible to get your chinchilla to enjoy being cuddled with some effort, consistency, and love.
Eventually, almost all of them come around and realize you’re the boss but also that you love them. They love you too and enjoy your company and time out of the cage with you.
Be sure always to set aside time each day to let your chinchilla play and interact with you and the family.
Don’t push the envelope too much and eventually, you will be thrilled you made the decision to get a chinchilla as the family pet.
Chili and I wish you the best of luck with your new chinchilla and hope it enjoys cuddling with you!
Share your thoughts about how cuddly your chinchilla is?
What’s your experience with cuddling your chinchilla?
What did you do to increase your chinchilla’s attitude towards being cuddled more frequently?
Be sure to share those thoughts, stories, and concerns by dropping a comment below.
As always, Chili and I appreciate you stopping by and reading and we will see you again next time.